afrol News, 19 November - Meeting Senegalese students in Paris, President Abdoulaye Wade explained that the bad image of his presidential term not was based in reality but only in the "bad communication" of his ex-Prime Minister, Ms Mame Madior Boye. "He", on the other hand, had enabled higher salaries, helped drought victims and produced football (soccer) victories, he underlined.
The President yesterday met with Senegalese students during his official visit to Paris, where he was confronted with various complaints, especially regarding the financing of education, according to the state-controlled news agency ASP. These types of complaints were however generally rejected. According to Mr Wade, he had heard of no other country "where all students are government funded" in some way and he maintained that Senegal's "investment" in higher education was significant.
This misunderstanding, together with other ignorance regarding the successes of his presidency, where based in "the absence of communication of the government of Mame Madior Boye," claimed the Head of State. Ms Boye and her government were sacked by presidential decree two weeks ago; no explication given. Generally it was interpreted as a reaction to the accident of the 'Joola' ferry, where over 1000 persons died and government took responsibility.
The declarations by the President yesterday provided more information of the decision. In Senegal, the government is named by the President and executes his policies; it does not answer to Parliament. The now 76-year-old President took office in April 2000 and thus broke with 40 years of Socialist Party ruling. His executives had until now, however, not given a positive image of Mr Wade's presidency, which has been noted by a focus on foreign policy, financial scandals, corruption and the 'Joola' accident, lowering the re-election chances of the aging President.
To explain the successes of the presidency and his governments, Mr Wade's newly appointed government (his third) - headed by Prime Minister Idrissa Seck - was to publish a "white book", the President explained in Paris. 43-year-old PM Seck, a careerist of President Wade's Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), will be in charge of "selling" the victories of the PDS since taking over in 2000.
And there were a lot of successes, Mr Wade held in Paris. One great achievement made possible by the President was the rise in both private and public sector salaries. "Senegal is the only country in Africa where the salaries of all workers have increased," Mr Wade claimed. This had only been possible due to the good governance of his executives, which had produced "revenues that allowed us this move."
The Head of State also mentioned as a success the government's disbursement of more than 11 billion franc CFA for the rural victims of the drought in the northern part of the country. This aid had been administered by a commission in which rural elements had participated, "something that never has been done before in Senegal." While government aid prevented starvation in Senegal's north, the same drought has developed into a major disaster in neighbouring Mauritania.
The President however was received with more scepticism by students when he presented the recent victories of the Senegalese football team in the World Cup as a government success. Met with smiles, Mr Wade maintained that the triumphs of 'the Lions' had been produced through "a good environment and the support of the entire nation."
Although few Senegalese would approve of a government link to these football victories, one recalls that President Wade's popularity enhanced significantly as he participated in the victory celebrations of 'the Lions'.
The President's continued insistence of such a link also provides more explanation to the sudden sacking of the government of Ms Boye. While President Wade enthusiastically followed 'the Lions' all the way, Ms Boye showed more enthusiasm in aiding the northern drought victims. New PM Seck already on his first day in office reminded the Senegalese people of the most important events of the last twelve months; the 'Joola' accident and the triumph of 'the Lions'.
Ms Boye, on the other hand, was marked by "poor communication," the President complained. He explained poor communication being "when you say something and people do not hear you." Mr Seck will be committed to popularise the policies of Mr Wade - if he has heard the presidential message well.
Sources: Based on Senegalese govt and press and afrol archives